Hickory Grove, Sumrall fire districts improve to Class 7 ratingBy HASKEL BURNS,
Two fire grading districts in Lamar County have improved their class ratings from the Mississippi State Rating Bureau, leading to savings in homeowners insurance rates for residents in those districts.
Both the Hickory Grove Fire Grading District and the Sumrall Fire Grading District have advanced to a Fire Protection Class 7, a one-class improvement from the previous rating of 8, effective Sept. 9.
“So that’s really good, and that’s going to improve insurance rates up there in that part of the county,” Lamar County Administrator Jody Waits said. “They worked pretty hard to improve their water shuttle, their roster, getting more people to volunteer.
“They’ve done a great job, and this is a benefit of their efforts – a reduced rate (in insurance).”
Fire ratings are ranked on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 the worst, depending on how well-equipped the fire departments are. Generally, a 1 rating means superior fire protection, while a 10 rating means the fire department did not meet standards from the Insurance Services Office.
Classification depends on factors such as water supply, emergency communications, fire prevention code, public fire safety education programs and fire investigations.
To be ranked anything other than a Class 10, a municipality or district must meet several criteria, including having at least four firefighters to respond on an initial alarm call to structure fires, having at least one pumper truck in each station, keeping detailed records of training and equipment testing, and conducting training for active members at least three hours every three months.
Currently, the lowest – or best – fire insurance rating category achieved in Mississippi is Class 3.
The amount of savings as a result of class improvement can vary from household to household.
“I haven’t heard anybody say anything (about what they’ve saved yet), but going from an 8 to a 7 is fairly significant,” Waits said. “I know in other districts that have gone to a 7, we’ve had reports of several hundred dollars in improvements in insurance premiums.”
In addition, the Oloh Fire Protection District is being expanded to include a section within the district that was previously not graded.
“It was too far from the fire station,” Waits said. “So we recently completed a new fire station up there off of Ball Lane, and it’s now operational.
“So what we need to do now is get the coordinates and descriptions of that area that’s not in the protection district, and get that officially put into district so that those people can take advantage of a better rating since there’s a fire station there.”